THE MILK TEST
By Lynda Robbins, Education Specialist
For those of you who are inclined to do science experiments in your kitchen, I applaud your curiosity and your desire to venture into the art of discovery. As my children made their way through elementary school, my kitchen often became a science lab where all manner of notions and potions were on display. Noxious smells permeated the air, gooey concoctions filled bottles, beakers, and cups, graphs were hung on the refrigerator door and results were posted. The process was fun and educational and experiments were a great way for my little ones to learn basic science concepts.
While some folks catch the science bug and grow up to become professional scientists, others become amateur scientists, continuing to be curious enough about the world and the things in it to perform at- home, do-it-yourself experiments. Take for instance the geeky wanna-be scientist who purchases one of our UP4™ Probiotics formulas at the local health food store. As we know, there are numerous brands of probiotics on the shelf to choose from. In this scenario, our “wanna-be” chose UP4™ perhaps because it was recommended by a friend or family member, or simply because the price was right and the packaging looked appealing. Hardly convinced that this probiotic is really everything it claims on the package to be, Ms. Wanna-be’s science mind kicks in. She wants to be sure that UP4™ will do the job to improve her digestive and immune systems, and she thinks, “what better way to be certain than to, yes you guessed it, do a science experiment to determine if the bacteria in the formula are “live” and potent”. The first step in her process is to Google “How to test the quality of a probiotics supplement at home”. She is immediately rewarded with several website choices for what’s called the “Milk Test”. These websites claim that the “Milk Test” is a reliable way to determine if a probiotic supplement contains viable organisms or not.
The truth is that the “Milk Test” described on websites is unreliable. The “test” is often described as checking for the formation of curds or clumps a day or two after putting the contents of a probiotic supplement into a small amount of milk and leaving it at room temperature. For growth to occur, optimal growth temperatures must be maintained. L. acidophilus, for example, grows optimally around 37C (98.6F). Yogurt cultures grow optimally at an even higher temperature at around 104F. Adding a probiotic that grows optimally at 98F to milk kept at room temperature (72F) will cause the fermentation process to be significantly delayed, leading to the false conclusion that there are no active cultures in the product.
It is true that certain probiotic bacteria can cause milk to clump, but not all probiotic bacteria will do this in the “milk test.” Clumping in milk is caused when proteins (which are normally free floating) join when the milk becomes acidic. Certain strains of bacteria can make milk more acidic by fermenting lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid — the process used to create yogurt, kefir, and cheese. A significant amount of lactic acid must be produced to make the milk acidic enough for it to curdle.
Probiotic bacteria which can convert lactose to lactic acid include those of the genus Lactobacillus (such as L. acidophilus). However, another common genus of probiotic, Bifidobacterium (such as B. lactis or B. bifidum), can only do this conversion when little oxygen is present and would, therefore, fail to curdle milk in the “Milk Test.”
UP4™ Probiotics are manufactured in a probiotic only facility in Wausau, Wisconsin, where we have gathered a team of some of the world’s most renowned scientists including Microbiologists, Biochemists, Food Scientists, Pharmacists and Nutritionists. These brilliant professionals are the “science of bacteria” experts who focus their time and passion on the research, development and quality control of UP4™ Probiotics formulas. Each UP4™ formula is tested and retested in our microbiology laboratories by placing the formula contents on culture media (petri dish) which is then incubated at the optimum temperature of 37C (98F). The quantity of viable organisms is determined by the resulting growth of bacterial colonies. This is real testing in a highly controlled professional, state-of-the-art science lab setting. The at-home “Milk Test” described above pales in comparison. It is certainly fun for the “amateur” wanna-be scientist, but the results will not in any way resemble the reliability of UP4™’s professional science team and our proven quality control lab processes.
UP4™ products are designed to deliver viable probiotics that are optimal for growth in the intestine, and are backed by over four decades of clinical studies. All UP4™ formulas contain our trademarked superstrain Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS®-1 which has been clinically proven to benefit the digestive and immune systems, combined with robust strains of Bifidobacteria to provide full gut coverage.
Don’t be fooled by the inaccuracy and false negatives of the do-it-yourself “Milk Test”. Trust in UP4™ Probiotics, one of the ONLY Probiotics only manufacturers in the USA. We guarantee potency until time of expiration. We are dedicated to the highest level of quality control testing and impeccable integrity.
Have a Happy, Healthy New Year with A HAPPIER INSIDE™!